The Carmelite Family around the world is united in prayer following the death of former Prior General of the Order, Most Rev Fr John Malley, O.Carm. He died unexpectedly on the evening of Saturday 18 February in Tucson, Arizona, in his native United States of America.
John Malley was born on 26 July 1930 in Boston, USA. At the end of his novitiate as a friar he made his simple profession of vows on 30 August 1950. He made solemn profession on 27 September 1953 at Saint Albert’s International College in Rome. While studying in Rome he was ordained priest on 1 July 1956.
In 1978 Fr John was elected Prior Provincial (senior brother) of the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary (also known as the 'PCM' or 'Chicago' Province) in America. He was still the Prior Provincial when in September 1983, at the General Chapter (international meeting) of the Carmelite Order, he was elected Prior General, that is, the most senior member of the Order worldwide. He was re-elected to this office in 1989, and went on to complete a second six-year term.
During his twelve years in office as Prior Genera, Fr John was of great service to Carmel. In particular Fr John will be remembered as the great promoter of the notion of 'Carmelite Family' which he encouraged and supported all around the world.
Fr John spoke about his own experience of the Carmelite Family and its values at the 2006 International Congress of Lay Carmelites in Rome.
At the end of his time as Prior General, Fr John returned to his province in the United States where he continued to work as Director of the Missions Office in Darien, Illinois, right up until his death.
The news service of the Carmelite Curia in Rome, CITOC, announcing Fr John's death, stated: "We remember him with great affection and gratitude and will pray for his eternal repose. May he rest in peace."
Fr John's successor as Prior General, Fr Joseph Chalmers of the British Province of Carmelites, will attend his funeral (and a tribute by him will be posted at a later date).
The Prior Provincial of the British Province, Fr Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm., said: "I always found John gracious and approachable. If you did anything for him he was always generous in his gratitude. He did so much to consolidate the life of the Order."
Johan Bergström-Allen, a Lay Carmelite of the British Province who teaches a module on 'The Carmelite Family' for the Carmelite Institute of Britain & Ireland, paid tribute to Fr John's work in that area: "John Malley grew up within a large family, and this profoundly influenced his view of Carmel when elected as senior brother within the Order. He understood that within Carmel - like in any blood family - there are many different 'roles', each of which is quite distinct but all of which contribute to the life of a healthy family. Fr John helped develop the notion of Carmelite Family from the 1980s onwards, stressing that all members of the family have a proper place and a full vocation. He encouraged deeper dialogue between the Carmelite and Discalced Carmelite Orders, co-writing the first joint letters between the Generals of the two branches of Carmel. Fr John also promoted recognition of the contribution that laity make to the life of Carmel, as well as religious, encouraging collaborative ministry. Without his leadership we almost certainly would not be talking and teaching about the Carmelite Family today, an approach to our spiritual tradition which inspires many other religious families worldwide."
Fr Joseph Chalmers pays tribute to a much-loved and respected Carmelite brother...
Before and after his studies in Rome, Fr John spent many years in school ministry in Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, Arizona. He also managed to gain a doctorate in clinical psychology. All of this experience was very useful when he was elected in 1987 as Prior Provincial of the then largest Province in the Order - the American Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary.
In 1983 he attended the General Chapter of the Order in Rome and was elected Prior General. He was re-elected in 1989. He was largely responsible for guiding the lengthy process of writing new Constitutions for the friars, which were approved by the General Chapter of 1995. These Constitutions have had a profound effect on the Order as a whole as they define in a clear way what is the Carmelite charism. The main thrust of his two terms as Prior General was the encouragement of the idea of the Carmelite Family. This concept was not well developed until Fr John took it and spoke about it in every part of the Order. Under his guidance the concept began to blossom and nowadays it is an essential part of how we Carmelites understand ourselves. We are part of an international Family, made up of lay people, active sisters, cloistered nuns, hermits and friars in active ministry. All of us together shape Carmel into the future as we seek to respond to God's call to us.
In 1995 when he left Rome, he returned to Tucson where he was remembered by many and soon became a beloved counsellor to new generations of young people. He was always a very active man and so when the school was on holiday he would go to Chicago where he was director of the Mission Office for his Province, where he was responsible for raising large amounts of money for the missions of the Order. His vast international experience helped him in this worldwide ministry. He maintained great contact with many Carmelite sisters. Many Carmelites and the people we serve have cause to be grateful to Fr John for help in building a much-needed church or school or clinic. Through the mission office he would spread the word about the Carmelite missions among many people in the United States.
Fr John Malley was a gentle man who loved people. Many throughout the world were recipients of his cards and letters and he never forgot a name. He was also passionate about sports and loved to play golf and tennis especially with his own brother, Fr Vernon Malley, who lived in the same community in Tucson. He also loved to watch the young people in the school playing various sports and always had a word of praise or encouragement.
He had just attended a school lacrosse match and was expected to go to a basketball game on Saturday but he did not turn up. One of his community went to see what was wrong and he found Fr John sitting in his chair with his breviary open in front of him. The psalm he had been reading was psalm 116: "Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful".
Fr John's funeral Mass will be held in Tucson on Friday, 24 February. May he rest in peace.
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